Fix Me A Snack

A blog created by a mom who got sick of feeding her kids crackers and ice cream

One of the most popular categories on Fix Me A Snack is “10 Minutes or Less“.  Those of us who do not like to spend our entire lives in the kitchen, appreciate a little inspiration in the realm of  quick healthy snacks for kids.

This is a snack we used to eat all the time, but it’s fallen by the wayside lately. Bananas with chocolate syrup and sprinkles was always a winner. Maybe we need to bring it back.

Also, I must show you a picture I found that my youngest drew a couple years ago. It’s the family in the kitchen. I love it. Can you tell I’m feeling a little nostalgic today? When they were babies the older moms always told me they would grow up so quickly and I didn’t believe them one bit. They were right, of course. Wah.

Here’s a snack that the kids and I can’t say ‘no’ to lately. Even the peanut butter hater in my household is a big fan. It’s the best I’m-craving-chocolate-but-I actually-want-to-put-some-real-food-in-my-body kind of snack there is.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

2 overripe bananas, peeled
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Put it all in a blender and whiz until smooth. Makes 2 cups.

One of the best parts of being a food blogger is that I feel required to keep a well-stocked pantry. I keep a large quantity of nuts, specialty flours, and, um, chocolate in my extra fridge that lives in the garage. The likelihood of me following through with a suggestion or random idea goes way up if I have all the ingredients on hand.

Now that I think about it, all it really takes to keep my family snacking healthy is a) a tiny bit of forethought, b) a bowl full of fruit on the kitchen counter, and c) a well-stocked pantry that leans toward healthy real stuff because you know I’m going to reach for that which is salty, fatty, sweet, and easy first if it’s anywhere in the house.

There, now you know all my secrets. Now that we’ve got that all figured out, go have some fun.

Seriously, a friend suggested that I try mixing some finely chopped chocolate into nut butter over a year ago. We’ve been munching away on this fabulous little treat on a regular basis now that the apples are starting to come in. This snack is a lot like Mud Dip. But it’s even quicker to pull together.

Peanut Butter with Chopped Chocolate Recipe

Serve this concoction as a dip with thickly sliced apples. Part of me wants to top it with roasted marshmallows, sliced banana, and top it with crumbled graham crackers…But that’ll have to wait.

It’s easiest to chop chocolate if you go at it if a serrated knife at an angle shaving off a little bit at a time.

2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1/2 ounce dark chocolate, chopped fine

Mix. Serve.

Yield: one generous serving
Prep-time: 5 minutes

Biscotti are a snack I’ve come a tad obsessed with lately. And this recipe is perfection because it uses up a single overripe banana and we always seem to have one languishing on the counter this winter.

I’ve shied away from biscotti in the past because they can be a little challenging for the kiddos to eat. But it turns out that if you make your own, you can leave them a little soft. Eureka!

Bananas aren’t a typical player in the biscotti universe, as far as I can tell. But the taste is brilliant, especially with the chocolate (surprise!). The whole family loves them and they are relatively low in fat and sugar. The kids have taken to dunking them in tall glasses of milk while we discuss important matters such as whether or not fairies are real.

Chocolate Chip Banana Biscotti Recipe

This recipe was inspired by a recipe from Cooking Light housed at My Recipes.

The crispness of the biscotti depends on how thick you slice them and how long they are baked the second time. If you’d like a traditional hard biscotti, bake them until the edges begin to brown (probably an additional 10 minutes). They will crisp up much more when they cool. By the same token, you can cut the second baking time by 5 minutes if you want especially soft biscotti.

2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 medium overripe banana, peeled and mashed well
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon safflower oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup small chocolate chunks or mini chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the banana, egg, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and mix until the mixture starts to form a ball. Add the chocolate and mix to incorporate.

Divide the dough in two and form into logs about 8 inches long and 2 inches wide. Wet your hands to keep the dough from sticking, if necessary. Place the logs on a parchment-lined baking sheet and flatten them with the palm of your hand so they are about 1/2 inch thick.

Bake for 25 minutes. When they come out of the oven, turn the heat down to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Allow the logs to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet. If they hang out longer they will be more likely to crumble when they are sliced. Carefully transfer the logs to a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to make 1/2 inch thick slices, preferably at an angle.

Arrange the slices on the same parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. They will still feel soft, but will harden as they cool. Serve or store in an airtight container. They will keep for several days or can be frozen.

Yield: 24 biscotti
Prep-time: 10 minutes
Bake-time: 55 minutes

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On a recent afternoon I heard, “Mama, can I have a Hershey Kiss?”

More often than not lately, I’ve been giving her a thumbs up. What harm can it do? But this time, more out of crankiness than anything else, I denied her request. I’ve been slacking lately. The junk has been creeping into our diet with increasing regularity.

My girl’s response was not a happy one to say the least. I dreaded having to listen to her protests.  But the pestering for sugar has gotten out of hand. And her diet has been dominated by beige foods for the past week or so. Instead of gently and lovingly parenting her back into a place of health and well-being, I quickly reached into the crisper drawer and dug out a neglected bag of carrots.

Despite her extreme displeasure with my decision, she was happily munching on carrots 10 minutes later. She’s not one to let go of a fight so easily. It seems that hunger got the best of her. And she actually ate a colorful food! Lots of it actually.

At dinner I was a lot more relaxed about her eating. The carrots had injected some much needed variety into the kid’s diet and there wasn’t as much pressure to make sure she consumed something resembling a square meal. I realized that I really missed being able to relax at the dinner table. The confrontation was worth it.

I guess my point is that even when you’re writing a flipin’ blog about healthy snacks for children, you’re not always bringing your A game. My new life rule is to stop buying little chocolate treats the minute they become routine or anyone in the family seems to be leaning a little too hard on the stash. After some moderately painful readjustments the family will see the light of day. And as long as there’s some fresh produce in the house, everything’s going to be okay!

These beautiful little fudge pops are the world’s most perfect way to consume chocolate on a hot summer day. The girls and I love love love them. They are like eating a popscile and a big bowl of chocolate pudding all rolled into one.

Fudge Pop Recipe

This recipe is heavily inspired by (read pretty much lifted from) Matt Aramendariz’s On A Stick!

1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons chopped semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, chocolate, and 1/4 cup of the milk until the chocolate is melted.

2. Add the rest of the milk and continue to stir until the mixture thickens (about 5-10 minutes).

3. Remove the saucepan from heat and allow the mixture to cool for a minute or two. Add the vanilla and butter and stir well.

4. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds (use as directed) or small (5-ounce) wax-coated cups. If you’re using cups, fill 3/4 of the way and cover the top with plastic wrap. Puncture the plastic wrap with a popsicle stick and insert the stick into the chocolate mixture all the way down to the bottom of the cup. Place on a level surface in your freezer for four hours or overnight.

5. To serve, simply tear and peel the cup off of the pop. If you’re using popsicle molds, run them under warm water for a bit in order to loosen the mold.

Yield: 4 – 5 pops
Prep-time: 15 minutes (and another 4 hours in the freezer)

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I used to think that raspberry rockets was the best snack I’d ever thought of. But now there’s a new kid in town… and she’s knocking my socks off.

My new life goal is to find some super high-quality white chocolate to use for this snack. The waxy aftertaste I’m getting from the cheapo Nestle chips we’re using is getting in the way of an otherwise perfect culinary moment.

In other news, we still don’t have anything resembling an Internet connection. We’re getting closer, but still not there yet.

Meet my ‘it’ snack of the moment. It’s crunchy. It’s simple and easy to prepare. It’s salty and sweet. And last but not least, there’s the chocolate! We all love these little nuts. I have no idea why oh why it’s taken me so long to pull this together. If I had come up with it three years ago when I started thinking about healthier kid snacks, I might have considered the case closed and never started this blog of mine.

Salted Chocolate Almonds Recipe

This recipe is easily doubled. It would also probably be insanely good with smoked salt if you happen to have any on hand. If you don’t have almonds, use cashews!

1 cup roasted unsalted almonds
1/2 cup (3 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)
1/2 teaspoon (give or take – more is more) kosher salt

Melt the chocolate chips gradually in a double boiler or in the microwave. If using the microwave, proceed with caution and set the power level to 20% for a minute at a time. After a few minutes, the chips should not appear melted, but should be soft enough to stir into a semi-smooth mass with a silicone/rubber spatula. Stir for a good thirty seconds or more. The warm bits of chocolate will gradually melt all of the firmer chips as the heat is redistributed. If you heat the chocolate too much, it will turn into a coarse chalky mass (from which it is impossible to recover). Melting it gently and keeping it away from moisture of any kind will allow the chocolate to keep its temper and be shiny when it cools.

Once the melted chocolate is ready, add the almonds to the bowl and stir to coat. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread the nuts into a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and allow to dry. This should take about ten minutes. Break apart any huge clusters of almonds and serve. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: 1 1/4 cups
Prep-time: 15 minutes (including drying time)

News Flash: Fix Me A Snack made it into Babble’s list of Top 100 Mom Food Blogs for 2011. Fix Me A Snack is  ranked at #51! Seeing Fix Me A Snack in a list along with so many big shots whom I truly admire is a huge honor. A big Thank You to Babble and all my dear readers.

Now let’s get back to snackin’.

The ingredient list in this S’more Bites recipe is a bit schizophrenic, I know.  Brown rice syrup and miniature marshmallows may seem like odd bedfellows. But the truth is that these s’more bites are supremely satisfying and chocolaty without being too sweet. Oh, and unsurprisingly, the kids loooove them.

S’more Bites Recipe

If you don’t have brown rice syrup, you can replace it with Lyle’s Golden Syrup. Honey is another possibility, but I haven’t tried it because it is sweeter than brown rice syrup and has a more powerful flavor.

The consistency of the chocolate mixture depends entirely on the amount of oil that gets thrown in along with the nut butter. Even when I’m using the same jar of almond butter, the results vary depending on whether I’m at the beginning (lots of oil) or end (getting dry) of the jar. Use the wheat germ to create a consistency easiest to work with. Your hands will get a little greasy perhaps, but the mixture should be easy to roll into balls and not too sticky.

5 store-bought graham crackers, broken up into large chunks
1/3 cup almond or peanut or sunflower butter
1/4 cup chocolate syrup
1 – 3 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup or Lyle’s Golden Syrup
20 miniature marshmallows

Put the graham crackers into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the processor for about 30 seconds or until the crackers are broken into fine crumbs. Add the almond butter, chocolate syrup, 1 tablespoon of  the wheat germ, and brown rice syrup to the bowl of the processor. Pulse for 10-20 seconds or until the mixture starts to come together into large crumbles.

Take a bit of the mixture in your hands and test to see if it will roll nicely into a ball. If it’s too wet, add more wheat germ a tablespoon at a time. If it’s too dry, add something moist like almond oil, chocolate syrup or brown rice syrup one tablespoon at a time. Run the processor for a few seconds after each addition to incorporate. 

Take pieces of the chocolate mixture a heaping teaspoon at a time. Knead it a bit and flatten it in the center of your palm. Place a marshmallow in the center and coax the chocolate mixture around the marshmallow with your fingertips. Once the marshmallow is covered up, round out the ball by rolling it gently. Serve or store in an airtight container. These freeze beautifully.

Yield: 20 bites
Prep-time: 20 minutes

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Well, life is back to normal I guess. We’re all done being television stars around here. My seven-year-old is so over it. She watched the video in the previous post at school yesterday and hasn’t asked to see it again. I watched the show a couple times yesterday. I’m at the point where I’m starting to notice everything I did wrong and am obsessing about what I should have said and done to plug the blog more. But hopefully I’ll get over myself very soon. Considering it was my first time on camera, I’m just glad I wasn’t a total train wreck.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner I’ve got time to squeeze in one more snack. Normally, I try to stay away from smoothie recipes simply because I love the impromptu act of throwing a smoothie together based on whatever you happen to have on hand. But I’m making an exception for this one because it’s so easy and perfect for the holiday.

Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie Recipe

1/2 cup silken tofu or plain yogurt
8-10 frozen strawberries, preferably organic
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 small to medium-sized banana
1/4 cup orange juice
Chocolate syrup, for garnish

Place the tofu, strawberries, vanilla, banana, and orange juice in a blender. Process until smooth. Pour into cups and garnish with a swirl of chocolate syrup. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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